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His full name is Abu Abdullah Harith bin Asad al-Basri. He was born in Basra in 781. Muhasibi means self-inspection/audit. It was his characteristic property. He was a founder of Sufi doctrine, and influenced many subsequent theologians, such as al-Ghazali.
The author of approximately 200 works, he wrote about theology and Tasawwuf (Sufism), among them Kitab al-Khalwa and Kitab al-Ri`aya li-huquq Allah ("Obeying God's Permits").
In al-Khalwa, in a discourse on fear and hope:
- Know that the first thing that corrects you and helps you correct others is renouncing this world. For renunciation is attained by realisation, and consideration is attained by reflection. For if you think of this world, you will not find it worth sacrificing your soul and faith for it. But you will find your soul worthier of honour by ridiculing this world. This world is abhorred of God almighty and the messengers. It is an abode of affliction and a station of foolishness. Be on your guard from it.
Al-Khalwa's argument elsewhere cites al-Hasan al-Basri. The above pericope was later transplanted into a fictional response by al-Hasan to 'Umar b. 'Abd al-Aziz.
- Gavin Picken, Spiritual Purification in Islam: The Life and Works of Al-Muhasibi, Routledge (2011), p. 67
- Translated in Suleiman Ali Mourad, Early Islam between myth and history (Brill, 2006), 128; from Khalwa, 24.
- Mourad 128-9 cites Ibn Abi'l-Dunya, Dhamm al-dunya, 146 #341; Ibn al-'Arabi quotes from that.